139: Ghosts of Elections Past

139: Ghosts of Elections Past

Sep 3, 1999
Stories of political idealists, stories designed to provide some small sense of hope about American politics. Most of these were first broadcast during the 1996 Presidential race.
  • Host Ira Glass with an idealistic would-be politician in California. The puzzle of American politics is that our political system is filled with idealistic people, but few of our candidates for top office seem either idealistic or capable of inspiring passion. (5 minutes) GovernmentPoliticsPresidents

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  • A campaign diary from writer Michael Lewis from four years ago, about a politician you've heard a lot about: John McCain...and the story of a moment when the opposite of normal politics became normal politics. Lewis's campaign diaries are collected in his book Trail Fever: Spin Doctors, Rented Strangers, and Thumb Wrestlers on the Road to the White House. (15 minutes) GovernmentHistoryMilitaryPoliticsPresidents
    Song:
    • "I Don't Want to Be President", Percy Mayfield

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  • A Walter Mondale-voting, gay-rights-supporting unrepentant liberal signs up as a Republican party member—and ends up a party functionary—a delegate to the state Republican convention...where he wreaks havoc. Dan Savage tells the story. (16 minutes) GovernmentPoliticsSexuality

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  • How California Governor Pete Wilson's anti-immigrant policies found some supporters among immigrants themselves. We hear an explanation of the profoundly idealistic notion of "self-deportation" from its main proponent, Daniel D. Portado. (6 minutes)GovernmentImmigrationPolitics

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  • A few years back Alex Kotlowitz wrote a book called There Are No Children Here, about two boys growing up in Chicago's Henry Horner public housing projects. Those projects were across the street from the site of the 1996 Democratic Convention in Chicago, and when the convention came to town, money poured in for a makeover. One of the kids from the book, Pharoah Walton—now grown up—gave a tour, showing us what got fixed up, and how the real improvements in the neighborhood all happened underneath the normal political radar. (10 minutes) ChildrenCityEconomicsGovernmentHousingPolitics

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